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Newswire – October 8, 2019

HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD.  If you are tired of jokers, adulterers and over the top political messages on the silver screen (not to mention paying $15 for the privilege), have we got a movie for you.  It is "Miss Virginia",  the eponymous heroine of which is Virginia Walden Ford,  an advocate for parent empowerment who fought the battle to bring opportunity to children in the District of Columbia and inspired thousands to follow suit around the country. It debuts on October 18th but you can see the trailer and hear from this remarkable woman by tuning into this week’s Reality Check with Jeanne Allen.  You’ll learn not only about the movie which stars Uzo Aduba, Emmy winner for “Orange is the New Black,” Matthew Modine, Niles Fitch and former Miss America Vanessa Williams, but also about how Virginia battled through adversity to win a significant victory in Washington.

THE CER TEAM IS PROUD of this alum, with whom we worked closely to mobilize parents in DC.  Her own authentic experience and tenacity is a great example of what one woman can do when she has a cause to rally around. All parents can draw from Virginia’s inspiration and engage in bringing about real live #ParentPower! It’s a must see for anyone who cares about kids.

CER team at the Miss Virginia movie premier with Miss Virginia herself.

OPPORTUNITY TO AZ’s UNDERSERVED.  2,500 miles away from D.C., Arizona could once again be the latest frontier for choice to serve a student population stuck in underperforming schools.  Arizona congressman Andy Biggs introduced a bill that offers vouchers to Native American students to diversify their educational options. Just like Congress has special oversight over DC’s education affairs, the lawmakers have oversight over Bureau of Indian Education schools, most of which have not served most Native American students well.  If enacted, the new program would provide an $8,000 deposit per year per student into an educational savings account to be used for cost of attendance at private schools, private online programs, tutoring, transportation and other educational services. These choices could be life saving… perhaps they need a screening of Miss Virginia to help them along!

TWENTY-FIVE PIONEERING YEARS. Happy Anniversary to Arizona’s charter schools, born June 17, 1994, thanks to a whole host of people, most notably then State Rep. Lisa Graham Keegan and State Senator Tom Patterson.  A diverse coalition of civic leaders, parents and educators stormed the Capitol to support the development of educational choices that would be tailored to the needs of students. The result? After only a quarter century, students in Arizona, particularly from low income and minority backgrounds are doing better than all other student groups.  “Students in Arizona charter schools score higher on state achievement tests than district students. In fact, they score better in pretty much all grade levels and every demographic and programmatic category for which scores are published and have done so for several years.”  No surprise that "The two highest growth schools in Arizona— Reyes Maria Ruiz Leadership Academy and Mexicayotl Charter School—are both high poverty public charter schools." The critics will keep on coming though, as we see right in our backyard in DC. No matter how great your results are, there’s always someone who believes that the status quo is just fine and is willing to fight you to stay in place.  That’s why we can’t join the celebration this week, but wish you the best for another 25 years of exponential impact!

BEANTOWN BEACON OF HOPE.  From Tufts University comes a new study showing that Boston-based charters result in “huge learning gains for the city’s special education students and English language learners.”  Can we see the hands of anyone surprised by this news? Nobody? Excellent – you are readers of great perspicacity.

“OYEZ! OYEZ! All persons having business before the Honorable, the  Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. God save the United States and this Honorable Court.”

Those words were pronounced yesterday as it was the first Monday in October, the start each year of the Supreme Court’s session. We believe (but we’re biased) that the most important case to be heard will be  “Espinoza v. The Montana Department of Revenue,” dealing with the legacy of one James G. Blaine, who in 1884 was dubbed the “continental liar from the state of Maine.” That’s when the illustrious New York Times broke its unblemished record of supporting Republicans for President,  ridiculing Blaine as “a prostitutor of public trusts, a scheming jobber and a reckless falsifier.” To lapse into legalese, the Blaine amendments are the epitome of fruit of the poisonous tree.

VOX POPULI.  If 97% of Americans think that public schools should be teaching civics ( who ARE those folks in the 3% who disagree? ) and 70% think it should be required for graduation, one might wonder why so few are taught. Only 39% of Americans can name the three branches of our government and 22% can’t name a single branch!  The National Assessment of Education Progress lays out a clear set of standards that all should be able to meet to be proficient  Check it out and ask those around you - kids and adults - if they understand their nation and its institutions in a way that allows them to truly engage as citizens.


As always, please drop us a line, with any input and suggestions.  

Founded in 1993, the Center for Education Reform aims to expand educational opportunities that lead to improved economic outcomes for all Americans — particularly our youth — ensuring that conditions are ripe for innovation, freedom and flexibility throughout U.S. education.